The huge family homestead that Gallipoli war hero Eric Beamish built on his return to Hawke's Bay is being sold by his family.

A bullet from a battle in World War I rested only millimetres from Beamish's heart as he built the property, known as Kohatunui, in 1921.

It's been in the family ever since. Beamish's grandson Chris has lived in the house since he was young and although it's the end of an era for himself and wife Jen, they're hoping to downsize from the six-bedroom property, which they are marketing for sale through Bayleys.

"We just want something a little more low maintenance. It's a bit sad but it's time for a change," Chris Beamish said.


Located about 50km west of Hastings, the name Kohatunui translates to 'big rock', named after two enormous rocks standing between 8-12 metres high, bordering the winding driveway to the historic home.

"Grandfather lived here for a long time then eventually moved into Havelock to be closer to medical facilities and my family moved into the house when I was about 8 or 9," Chris Beamish said.

Eric Beamish fought in the battle for Table Top Mountain in Gallipoli during World War One. Photo / Supplied
Eric Beamish fought in the battle for Table Top Mountain in Gallipoli during World War One. Photo / Supplied

"We used to live in the cottage below the homestead and my dad would have to come up to report to grandfather on what he had done on the farm every day. After work he'd go up and have a whisky with him every day.

"Grandfather ran the place like a military camp and if the workers didn't follow the rules they were given a warning, if they still didn't comply, they were gone."

Eric Beamish was shot in the chest in August 1915 during the battle for Table Top Mountain at Gallipoli.

An X-Ray of the bullet lodged in war hero Eric Beamish's chest. Photo / Supplied
An X-Ray of the bullet lodged in war hero Eric Beamish's chest. Photo / Supplied

Due to the bullet's location, surgery was not an option and his body began to heal itself by growing cartilage around the bullet.

"He never complained about it, he just got on with it," Chris said.

"He spent a few years in England in charge of a lot of troop transports, so we've got a lot of cups of all the old troop transport ships which took them backwards and forwards."

The stately homestead remains as it has always been, with the only serious alterations made to the kitchen area.

What is now the pool room, was once used as a community library where books were rotated every few months to give the community a fresh read.

The room was also once used as a classroom for children living in the tight knit community.

The house survived the Napier Earthquake in 1931, with the chimneys toppling during the 7.8 magnitude shake.

"They're slightly shorter now, Beamish laughed, "my father was out at the time mustering cattle and they stopped under a cliff to have lunch and the horses must have sensed the quake coming and they bolted.

"So my father and the team jumped up and ran off down the creek to get their horses when the quake hit and when they went back to have their lunches afterwards, the lunches were buried because the cliff had come down."

Meanwhile, at the homestead, his father's sister was sleeping in one of the end bedrooms.

Before the quake struck she was scooped up by the nanny and taken into the lounge area.

"The earthquake hit and the chimney came down right through her cot and completely flattened it, so she wouldn't be here if the nanny hadn't picked her up."

The home, along with 27ha of freehold land, is on the market by private treaty through Bayleys Havelock North with offers closing on March 4.

Salesman Kris August said the house remained as impressive now as when it was first built.

"The polished kauri, rimu and matai floorboards, doorways, beams and window frames and surrounds are all original - testimony to the craftsmanship and detail with which they were first built," he said.

The property also includes a substantial four double bedroom 'workers cottage', equivalent to the size of an 'average Kiwi home'.

The listing can be viewed at